THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING FRANK  ***

THEATRE

TheSPACE ON NORTH BRIDGE (V36)   15.20

AUGUST 14TH TO 19TH

This is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest updated to the 1980s, so that we have an Andrew Moncrieff immersed in large headphones and other symbols of that time.

The cast throw themselves into the performance. The members of Reading University Drama Society who were presenting this show displayed much enthusiasm and enjoyment in what they were doing, and this transmitted to the audience. Timothy Stiles as Andrew Moncrieff was all long-limbed energy and smiles, smiles which helped cope with successive embarrassing moments. Daniel Snipe as John Worthing had a contrasting sense of dignity and decorum, a strong presence. Hana Beckwith and Coral Richards as Gwendolen and Claire respectively both brought a sense of energetic joy to their parts, Coral Richards with a nice sly wit, and Hana Beckwith managing at times to be at the same time gushing and knowing. Cameron Gill as Mrs Bracknell was strong and memorable, though there was probably room for more light and shade even in this reduced script.

The reduced script was what most bothered me. The director, Erin Caitlin Karn, has said she has “an absolute ball” directing the show, and I can imagine it being great fun. However. I did not have quite that degree of joy, as events sped past and the performance ended with loose ends for anyone who knows the original. I do not think you can do justice to the twists and turns of this play in forty five minutes, but this was a brave and dynamic attempt to do so, and the company are to be commended for making the attempt.

Tony Challis